The role of Robert Bradshaw in adult suffrage, the acquisition of the sugar lands and preparation for political independence highlighted by Dr. Henry Browne

Dr. Henry Browne

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 31ST 2011 (CUOPM) – The role played by Robert Bradshaw in the introduction of adult suffrage, the attempted overthrow of his lawfully-elected government on June 10, 1967, the acquisition of the sugar lands and preparation for the State’s political independence.

Bradshaw’s insistent pricking of the imperial government to place power in the hands of the masses saw adult suffrage come to St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla in 1952. Happy as Bradshaw was this was certainly not to be his be all and end all. Through his effort the ministerial system of government was introduced in St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla by the British in 1956 and Bradshaw was appointed Minister of Trade and Production. Again I say Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw had come a long way. He was on his fortieth birthday,” said prominent Nevisian-born barrister Dr. Henry Browne, who noted that Robert Bradshaw’s dream of a West Indian Federation was realised in 1958 at a time when he was swiftly mounting to the top of the political ladder in St. Kitts.

“Yet Bradshaw gave up his ascendency to the highest power at home to stand as a candidate for the Federal Parliament which sat miles away in Trinidad. He was elected and appointed Federal Minister of Finance. To have decided as he did to enter the Federal Parliament is a clear demonstration of his selflessness. Bradshaw who was the idol of his native people was not after power for personal reasons. Bradshaw was not seeking personal aggrandisement. Bradshaw was imbued with a sense of duty to his black race,” said Dr. Browne at a Requiem Mass to celebrate the contribution of fallen Labour Movement stalwarts to the political, social and economic development of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Caribbean.

Robert Bradshaw

“Convinced as he was that unity of outlook was a prerequisite for any achievement of the Caribbean man he gave of his genius to forge that realisation. How many men would have surrendered the pomp and power available to them at home to venture on the unchartered course aboard a federal ship? History reveals that few did so and by the look of things few will be prepared at this point of time to do so. Robert Bradshaw did,” Dr. Browne said.

He continued: “No small wonder when the West Indies Federation broke up in 1962 Bradshaw was angry and sorrowful. Yet to build bridges over the troubled waters he sought after a federation of the little Eight. But this was not to be. Bradshaw returned to his native St. Kitts in 1962 and in a bye-election was re-elected to the local legislature. Bradshaw’s magnamity was such that he did not then attempt to take the reins of the Chief Minister’s Office from his able lieutenant Paul Southwell. Bradshaw waited until after the 1966 general elections to assume the office of Chief Minister. Was this not a man who was of the firm belief that things ought always to be done decently and in order? I think so. This was compatible with his fine breeding.

I have paid this kind of tribute to Robert Bradshaw deliberately, scoping his achievements which stand out as examples for a people to emulate. Robert Bradshaw was a shining light, a beacon in the dark days experienced by the ordinary man. I say to his relatives and to us who have been left behind – Grieve not – Look ahead and take as our guide the principles of integrity, honesty and decency for which Bradshaw stood.

Bradshaw and colleagues

In fine to complete this tribute I borrow the words of William Shakespeare to say of Bradshaw:-. . . His life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world “This was a man.”

May the soul of Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw the first national hero of the State of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla rest in peace – For long will we remember him.” Dr. Browne concluded.

Bradshaw who died in office was buried following a State Funeral on this date – May 31st in 1978.

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